So, you were in a car accident, and the other driver was clearly at fault. Their insurance company accepts liability, but the policy limits aren’t enough to cover all your damages and losses. Now what? You have options to pursue the at-fault driver personally for the difference. It may seem daunting, but you can recover more than their policy limits with the right approach.
Umbrella Insurance Coverage
If the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage isn’t enough to cover your losses, don’t despair. You have options to get the compensation you deserve.
One way is through your umbrella insurance policy. This provides extra liability coverage above and beyond your auto policy limits. If the other driver is underinsured, your umbrella policy can kick in to make up the difference. The more coverage you have, the more you’ll be able to recover.
You could also file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover additional damages. While the legal process can be time-consuming, a judgment in your favor means the driver is personally responsible for paying you the amount awarded by the court, even if it exceeds their insurance coverage.
If the at-fault driver has significant assets like a home or rental property, you may be able to place a lien on those assets. The lien allows you to collect payment from selling or refinancing those assets.
If the at-fault driver’s insurance doesn’t cover all your damages, you still have options to get fully compensated. One way is to go after the driver’s assets.
You can personally file a lawsuit against the driver to recover additional losses beyond their policy limits. Things like their home, vehicles, savings accounts, investments, and valuables are all fair game.
- Home equity: The amount their home is worth minus what they still owe on the mortgage. This can potentially be a big source of funds to collect from.
- Vehicle value: The make, model, year, features and condition of the vehicle(s) determine their worth. Newer luxury vehicles will have a higher value to pursue.
- Bank/investment accounts: Checking and savings account balances, CDs, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. Your attorney can subpoena records to find accounts in the driver’s name to withdraw funds.
- Valuables: Things like jewelry, collectibles, recreational equipment, electronics, and other tangible assets may be available for liquidation to pay you.
While going after someone’s assets isn’t ideal, it may be your only option to recover damages their insurance won’t cover. With the help of an experienced attorney, you have a good chance of collecting what you rightfully deserve from the responsible party. The time and effort will be well worth it in the end.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM)
If the at-fault driver’s liability coverage doesn’t fully compensate you for your injuries or vehicle damage, turn to your auto insurance policy. Most states require drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) to protect themselves.
Your UM/UIM coverage steps in when the other driver is uninsured or underinsured. It provides coverage for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and vehicle repairs up to the limits you purchased. The good news is UM/UIM coverage is usually quite affordable. For a few dollars more each month, you can increase your limits to $100,000 or even $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident.
Higher UM/UIM limits mean you’ll have more coverage available if you’re in a serious accident with an uninsured or underinsured at-fault driver. It gives you peace of mind that you and your passengers will be properly compensated for injuries and damages, even if the other driver lacks sufficient coverage.
In some cases, you may be able to hold an at-fault driver’s employer liable for damages even if the driver’s insurance coverage is insufficient. This is known as vicarious liability. If the at-fault driver was operating a vehicle in the course and scope of their employment at the time of the accident, their employer can be on the hook for damages.
To pursue a vicarious liability claim:
- Investigate to determine if the at-fault driver was working during the accident. Look for clues like company signage or logos on the vehicle, tools or equipment related to their job, statements from witnesses, etc.
- Send a demand letter to the employer explaining that their employee caused the accident in the course and scope of employment, making them vicariously liable for damages. Provide details about the accident and injuries or damages.
- If the demand letter does not result in a satisfactory settlement, you may need to file a lawsuit against the employer to recover additional damages. You will have to prove that the at-fault driver was working at the time and acting within the scope of their employment.
- The employer’s insurance or assets can pay damages above and beyond the at-fault driver’s policy limits. However, some states have caps on damages for vicarious liability claims.
- You may be able to negotiate a settlement with the employer’s insurance company to avoid the time and expense of a trial. They may be willing to settle, especially if liability and damages are clear.
Vicarious liability can be useful for recovering more than an at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits when their employer is partly responsible due to the doctrine of respondent superior. With proper evidence and persistence, you have a good chance of success.
If the at-fault driver operated someone else’s vehicle during the accident, you may have a claim against the vehicle’s owner for “negligent entrustment.” This means the owner negligently allowed an incompetent or reckless driver to use their vehicle.
To prove negligent entrustment, you must show the following:
- The owner willingly allowed the at-fault driver to use their vehicle.
- The owner knew or should have known the at-fault driver was incompetent or reckless.
- The at-fault driver’s incompetence or recklessness caused the accident.
For example, if the at-fault driver had a history of DUIs or traffic violations that the owner was aware of, it may support a negligent entrustment claim. The owner had reason to know the at-fault driver was unfit to drive, yet still allowed them to operate their vehicle.
If successful, you may be able to recover additional damages from the vehicle owner beyond the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits. The owner’s insurance and personal assets could be exposed to satisfy your claim.
Contact a Pompano Beach Car Accident Lawyer to Inquire on More Ways to Maximize Your Settlement
If the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage won’t fully compensate you for your injuries and damages, it’s time to call in the pros. Contacting an experienced Pompano Beach car accident lawyer is one of the best steps. Attorneys experienced in auto accidents and personal injury lawyers know the ins and outs of recovering damages beyond policy limits. They have a proven track record of getting clients fair settlements.
At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, we have been helping Pompano Beach, Florida, car accident victims with decades of combined experience. Our team of attorneys are highly skilled negotiators and litigators. We know how to build a strong case to prove the total value of your claim, even if it exceeds the at-fault driver’s policy limits.
Call us at (561) 800-8000 for a free case review and consultation. We have the skill and experience to help you recover more than the insurance policy limits of an at-fault driver.